Week three. Sometimes it feels like the Wednesday of NaNo. In week one we had a plan or the hope of a plan and asked ourselves ‘what if.’ Week two we held fast to our imaginations and steamed past the naysayers. Then week three arrived. Purple bars started appearing under some people’s pictures. Then there are those of us who aren’t quite (or not at all) near the blasted purple bar worrying as we shovel coal in hopes of creating some more steam because it feels like there might not be quite enough. This is week three. Don’t worry. It’s almost week four.
So what can you do when all those coals of ideas pushing your imagination on seem to be running low?
One of the things that is fascinating in steampunk is while there is that crazy juxtoposition of ideas and openness to just about anything, there is also a lot of attention to detail. Do an image search on steampunk and once you look past the tophats and corsets and bustles of the Victorian era, you may begin to notice that what sets them apart are all the little deatils. There are cogs and chains and intricate clockwork devices. The pistols are engraved and the brass is aged. Texture is layered over texture and every seam is defined. Without those details they don’t make the jump from Victorian to steampunk.
Word nerd that I am I looked up the etymology of ‘details’ and at its French roots it means to separate (de-), to cut (tailler). Further back that to cut is from the Latin talea meaning a twig or cutting.
What does this have to do with steampunk or NaNo? Maybe its where my own NaNo manuscript is as, but there are two pieces of inspiration I take from this.
The first is that all those ‘minor items or events regarded collectively’ can be a great place to visit when you are stuck and trying to figure out how to get those 1,667 words in for the day. Describe the details that make your story yours. Maybe your character loves pierogies or spike heels. Perhaps they decorated their whole home in purple or there is something strange about the street they live on. Daily writing prompts are a great place to find inspiration for this.Those details may never make it past the first draft, but there is a lot to be learned from the details of your world.
The second is that original Latin talea. In horticulture a cutting is a part of a parent plant that is cut off in order to grow a new and separate plant. Look through what you have written. Where are there places that you have skipped over details or days or emotions? Can a new scene be grown out of it? What unanswered questions can you address?
Need help figuring out some details? Other wrimos are a great source of info. Come and pluck their minds at our write-in today at E. Lansing Grand Traverse Pie Company or any of the others coming up between now and the end of the month.
Go get lost in the little things and we’ll see you soon.
Alaina aka A_Rachelle
Your co-captain of the Airship NaNoLansing Sojourner aka co-Municipal Liaison for USA::Michigan::Lansing